Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I decided to keep writing in this blog about any travelling we do, including that which is a lot closer to home. This weekend we went up to Nottingham to visit Jo and Andy, but also trying to see some people that I’ve not seen in years too. Two birds with one stone and all that. I know that Nottingham is not such an exciting destination, given that I lived there for many years, but it is a destination nonetheless.

It always feels strangely like coming home when the train pulls into Nottingham station. I wonder how many times I have passed through that station over the years. Andy was attempting to shoe-horn the car into a parking space when we got outside, so we saved him the bother and off we went.

On Friday night we met an old colleague of mine, Lez, and his wife Claire in the Hard to Find CafĂ© on Mansfield Road. It’s not all that hard to find as the sign clearly states it’s position. It was good to see Lez again, after maybe 5 years or so. We were also surprised by seeing Graham, another old colleague from the same place. Max turned up too, which was also unexpected and nice. I’m afraid that I very quickly slipped into the same rate of drinking that I was used to when I used to work with these guys, something I’m not used to now. It was probably not a good idea to open bottles of cider when we got back to Jo and Andy’s house.

I felt pretty grotty for the whole of Saturday. Other than a brief foray into Arnold to sort some things out we spent most of the day in front of the TV. We were supposed to be going to the Orange Tree to see Formication, the electronica project of an old uni friend of mine, Alec. I was sort of alright until I took a couple of tablets for my headache. The tablets had the unfortunate side effect of upsetting my stomach. Although I managed to endure the bus journey into Nottingham without splashing sick about the place I wasn’t confident I could manage the pub. So we turned away from the door, me breathing deeply and doing gassy little pre-vomit burps. I’m really disappointed that I missed the gig, as I really wanted to see Alec.

Jo is getting married in the summer and Gemma is a bridesmaid, which meant they had to go into Nottingham and look at dresses on Sunday. Thankfully Andy and I managed to escape the dress shops and look at cameras and pots and pans instead. After drawing a blank on the dress front we drove out to a country village pub for lunch. Lunch was alright, but Gemma’s vegetarian Sunday lunch option -just veg and a pudding and no gravy -wouldn’t win any awards.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What now

It is strange being back in the UK after 7 months away. Both Gemma and I are currently floating about in a bit of a daze. We had hoped that whilst away we would come up with an excellent plan for what to do with the rest of our lives. We failed.

As with the year that we spent in Australia, I have come away from this trip really appreciating time. The great thing about a trip like the one we’ve just had, for me, is not necessarily the places we’ve been or things that we’ve seen, but rather the feeling that I own my own time. I haven’t had to get up in the morning and go to work. I haven’t had to do anything at all. Other than mostly very vague and changeable plans, we were able to decide what we did on an almost daily basis. That feeling can be daunting; there is a big world out there and lots of stuff to do. Mostly though, I found it liberating.

Saying all that though, we did go to some brilliant places and did see some lovely things. As ever, the natural world was the highlight. I love wildlife and I love beautiful scenery and this trip gave us the opportunity to see plenty of both. I think for both of us, having a large group of Elephants surround our car after a couple of days of wildlife spotting was probably a highlight although there were many other wonderful moments.

I know that some people would have been to more places than us in the time that we’ve been away, or done different things in the places that we have been. I’m a lazy traveller. I don’t like to rush or to try and cram too much in. I’d rather treat the time like a holiday, which it was. So we may have missed some ‘must see’ sights. So what? They’ll mostly still be there. I’ve certainly come away with a long list of places that I would love to go back to.

I’m just sad that our diary and photographs may not have gotten across how wonderful our experiences were. I’m not the best writer in the world and find it much more difficult to explain positive things than negative things, thus it may seem like I’m moaning a lot in the blog. I know that my blog posts are probably as dull as ditchwater to most readers due to their excruciating level of detail. That’s because I don’t have the best memory for place names and the like and intended my diary as a place I could keep track of that kind of thing. Having friends and family use it to keep track of what we were up to was a pleasant side effect.

Since we’ve been back we haven’t seen very many people due to Gemma falling ill with a nasty cold almost immediately, and the fact that my body is refusing to accept it is on UK time now. Still, virtually everyone we’ve spoken to has asked the question, ‘What was your favourite place?’ It’s an impossible question to answer as everywhere that we have been has been so different. Each place has had it’s highs and lows and each has an individual charm.

So, what now for Get Your Boots On? Many people have said to us things like, ‘Oh, this will get it out of your system’, ‘time to settle down now’ and ‘it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.’ I’m not sure that I agree. If anything I only want to travel more. I’m not sure whether I would want to go away for quite as long, at least not any time soon. I might be feeling that I want to put down some roots now. To find a base to which I can return. Both Gemma and I would like to travel within the UK and also within Europe so perhaps that will be next.